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Sione Pouha Could Miss New York Jets Season Opener, Kenrick Ellis Ready to Start

September 3rd, 2012 at 6:30 PM
By Donald Lappe

New York Jets stud nose tackle Sione Pouha could miss this weekend's season opener against the Buffalo Bills at MetLife Stadium after possibly suffering a setback as he recovers from a back injury. New York Jets head coach Rex Ryan wouldn't commit on the status of Sione Pouha but left open the possibility of him missing the game on Sunday. In the event Sione Pouha is out, Kenrick Ellis would step in at nose tackle.

'New York Jets Linebacker Bart Scott and Defensive Tackle Sione Pouha' photo (c) 2011, Marianne O'Leary - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

The New York Jets signed Sione Pouha to a three-year deal this offseason, with Pouha showing once again last season that he is one of the most underrated defensive players in the NFL. The Jets will miss him if he can't play Sunday versus the Buffalo Bills, though the blow felt by his absence should be lessened by the presence of Kenrick Ellis. Kenrick Ellis asserted himself when Sione Pouha's injury gave him an opportunity for playing time with the first unit this preseason.

Last season, Kenrick Ellis showed flashes of the potential that enticed the Jets to take a risk and draft him in the third round of the 2011 NFL Draft despite his impending criminal charges. A first round talent with immense physical strength and surprising athleticism, the Jets gambled on Kenrick Ellis and in his first start against the Miami Dolphins on Monday Night Football he delivered. Kenrick Ellis produced two solo tackles and an assist, stacking up the center of the line of scrimmage. His season was derailed by an injury the following week against the San Diego Chargers.

This preseason Kenrick Ellis racked up five solo tackles, four assists, 0.5 sacks and one deflected pass over three games. It's important to keep in mind that he didn't play the entire game in those preseason contests and his performance reaches much further than his own personal stats, as is the case with most nose tackles. Kenrick Ellis did a great job this preseason of eating double teams and even creating penetration up front, disrupting the rushing attacks of opposing offenses.

Even if Sione Pouha can play, expect to see plenty of Kenrick Ellis Sunday and throughout the rest of the regular season. The defensive line is one unit that benefits greatly from a deep rotation, something the Jets have the potential to produce. Kenrick Ellis has earned the right to see significant playing time, a nice development and possibly a homerun draft pick for Mike Tannenbaum and Rex Ryan.

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Tags: 2011 NFL Draft, Buffalo Bills, Football, Kenrick Ellis, MetLife Stadium, Mike Tannenbaum, New York, New York Jets, NFL, Rex Ryan, Sione Pouha

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